"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." -Alma 26:12

Monday, September 28, 2015

First Week in Japan - 9/27/2015

Minasan konnichiwa,

After a seemingly endless flight, I finally made it to Japan! We were on three different planes for a total of over 15 hours. The second flight was the worst, because we were on the plane for about 12 hours. Then, when we got to Korea, we learned that our flight had arrived late because we were flying against a headwind. We had about 5-10 minutes to get through customs and board our next plane before it left. Looking back, it probably was pretty funny to watch 15 gaijin sprinting through the airport with all our luggage. We never would have made it normally, but Heavenly Father looks out for His servants. When we got to customs, we were bumped to the front of the line, and we all made it through quickly.

When we finally made it to Japan, we were met by the Assistants to the President, Elder Barr and Elder Takahashi. They were both amazing, and they even brought us dinner for the bus ride to the mission home. We didn't get to the mission home until well after 12:00 in the morning, so we were all way tired. We immediately crashed on any space we could find and we were out until morning.

In the morning, we decided to go for a run, which turned out to be a bad idea, at least for me. I was feeling really sick that morning (not exactly sure why, but I blame the Korean plane food I ate- it was terrible!), and I had to stop about halfway through the run. Wood choro stayed with me, and of course, we lost the group. We weren't sure where to go, so we just chose a street and kept walking. We had barely walked for a minute or so before we ran into a nihonjin. He greeted us in English, which was surprising. He then told us he was a member of the church. We had seen maybe ten people that morning, and one of them just happened to be a member. We asked him where the church was, and he gave us some general directions. We took off thinking we would be able to find it, but we quickly got lost again. After a while, we decided to stop and pray to our Heavenly Father for help. During the prayer, I kept having the same thought- go back down the street we had just come from. I told Wood choro, and we started back. We had only gone one street away when Barr choro and another Elder came riding by on bikes. Our prayer was answered so quickly, it was absolutely incredible!

We spent the next few days training in the mission home, which was actually pretty fun. We even had Costco pizza one day! On Thursday, we found out who our new companions would be, and what area we would be in. My companion is Madruga choro, he is from Brazil and he is an awesome missionary. He has been out for about a year, and I am learning so much from him. My area is Matsuyama, and the Kochi mission. It's crazy, because we are starting a new mission there, so we have absolutely no contacts to start with. It is also the biggest area in the Kobe mission, so I'll be getting a lot of exercise riding my bike. We probably won't even work much outside of Kochi city. The other thing is that Kochi is way far away from the mission home.

We traveled the last half of Friday to get there, and we didn't even make it halfway. We had to stop at another area and stay the night in the missionaries' apartment. In the morning we started traveling again, and we finally got to Kochi around 1 o'clock. The other missionaries in our area, Bahr choro and Matsumoto choro were there to pick us up. They are both really fun, and great missionaries, too. Bahr choro is our district leader, and he is from Arizona. Matsumoto choro is from a place near Tokyo. We all stay in a small apartment, which is pretty tight, but still fun.

The first thing we tried to do was to get a bike for me. I didn't realize how hard it was going to be. We went to the bike store, and we spent almost 3 hours there. The basic problem was that there weren't any bikes big enough for me. The mountain bikes were almost big enough, but the frames were shorter, so I would hit my knees on the handlebars when I turned. The road bikes were long enough, but they weren't high enough. They couldn't order any longer mountain bikes, but they could get bigger road bikes. Then they told us that it would take over a month to get here. So basically, nothing was working. Here is where the story gets good, though. Madruga choro was looking through a catalog for a bigger bike, and he found one that seemed like it would be big enough. He asked the manager if we could get that bike, and the manager seemed confused. He said he had never seen that bike before, but he would try to call his supplier to see if they had it. It turns out that they did, and that they would be able to get it here in about a week! I have seen the Lord's hand in my life so much this past week, and this was definitely one of those times. It reminded me of the scripture 1 Nephi 3:7. We were trying to do the Lord's work, and He provided a way for us to accomplish it more efficiently, just like He did for Nephi.

On Sunday, I had to bear my testimony and introduce myself in Sacrament meeting. I think I did it without embarrassing myself too much, and it was great to meet the members, even if I didn't understand much of what they said. They were all so amazing, and so friendly, too.

Later in the day, we went out teaching. We met a group of kids in the street playing a game sort of like tag. We played with them for a while, then Madruga choro told me he wanted to invite them to eikaiwa (English class). I said we should take them to the church and give them a tour right then, and he agreed. We invited them to come, but they were really hesitant. We promised them some treats we had in the fridge if they came, which worked perfectly (of course- it was a bunch of teenage boys). They seemed afraid to come into the church, but they eventually came in. We gave them a tour and their promised treats, and invited them to eikaiwa and church. I hope they all come- that would be so amazing.

That pretty much brings me up to now, sorry for the long email. A lot has happened, way more than I can possibly write. We are working really hard to find people to teach, and I am always super tired when we get home. It has been an amazing experience so far, though, and I am loving every second of it. I hope everyone is doing well!

-Elder Winegar

me, Madruga (top left), Bahr (bottom right), and Matsumoto (top right)

First day at the mission home with our whole group

our last district picture with our teachers

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